After the release of their 2011 LP, Junk of the Heart, British indie rockers The Kooks seemingly vanished for a while, leaving fans craving new material and any sightings of the foursome. Lead singer, Luke Pritchard ventured off to the States during the hiatus to take a break from touring and to collaborate for the first time with others including Mark Foster (of Foster the People). After a short while traveling around America, Pritchard returned to the UK refreshed and with a new appreciation for soulful funk records, hip-hop, and New Orleans jazz. Hooking up with his bandmates and hip-hop producer Inflo, Pritchard crafted a completely new, danceable Kooks sound that he describes as “electric church music.” We sat down with the Kooks frontman to talk the band’s new fresh sound and changed lineup, and he made us a pretty eclectic Spotify playlist that is just as awesome as the band’s newest album, Listen.

1.  Your latest LP Listen, has a much more percussive sound than what were used to hearing from you. What was it like recording this album and how was it different from your last three releases?

We were very into making a danceable sound. Cross rhythms played a big part in the recording process — I mean, working with a hip-hop producer, things like that were talked about a lot. Also, one of the main references production wise from myself was an album called (simply) ‘Percussions by Serge Gainsbourg. It may in fact be one of the first records ever to use samples. He uses a lot of African tribal rhythms recorded and then layers a song over the top. I really was inspired by that thought. To be fair, [it’s] not his most well known work but well ahead of its time!

2. Youve mentioned before that you all realised that the music you were making on your previous releases wasnt necessarily what youd put on at home. What were you listening to at the time you were creating this album that influenced its sound?

Personally, I was starting to listen to more modern sounding music around (the 2011 Kooks’ LP) Junk of the Heart. In the past, I really just listened to sounds from the 60s and 70s or bands in that vein. I really got into air and some hip-hop too like Nas, and was really blown away by that ‘Blakrock album with The Black Keys. I thought that was really interesting. Then the New Orleans jazz and funk stuff took over a bit and I really connected and felt that was the kind of music I would have loved to do in another life. Then I thought, theres no rules, and this album is kind of the outcome of that.

3. With Listen having a more groovy, funk vibe, has this affected the way in which you perform your live shows? 

Yeah it has. Also, the feel in the crowd too has changed. Our shows are pretty different from other gigs youll see. We kind of go through a lot of different sounds and feels during the set. It’s what I love about this band myself.

4. This year, youve had a new lineup change along with a new album that has a completely different sound. Do you think these changes were needed in order for you all to grow as band?

Not necessarily. We could have made another album in a similar way to the past and still been pushing further into that thing, but it was more for us as people. We made a decision to be brave with our music and leave what we were behind to find something really exciting. Alexis joining the band was definitely a big thing too. He brought a fresh approach and introduced us to lots of new music.

5. Talk us through the songs on your Spotify playlist and why you chose them?

It’s a fun thing to compile! To be honest, Ive just put down songs that I think are real gems and that I would want at my funeral party. Haha! There are some interesting songs I think. Dur-Dur Band is a cool one — we heard this on a French pirate radio show and we all lost our minds. Such cool lo-fi production (from Somalia). Barbaras “Laigle Noir” also is unusual but extremely beautiful. I mean it’s ridiculous! And I put a bunch of classics too — The [Captain] Beefheart was a must. Hope everyone enjoys it!

6. We believe that happiness is better shared; please can you pick a song from your playlist and tell us who youd like to share it with?

Elvis blue moon - David Lynch